Belize’s relationship with neighboring Guatemala has had its fair share of controversy due to the one-hundred-sixty-two-year-old border dispute, one that will be settled at the International Court of Justice. While that diplomatic solution is being worked on, Government is welcoming business from across the border. On Monday, the new home Cementos Progresso – a Guatemalan-based manufacturing firm – opened its plant at Mile Thirty-four on the George Price Highway. Prime Minister John Briceno, who is also the Minister of Finance and Economic Development explained that this welcomed partnership is one that will allow for greater opportunities for regional integration.
John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “Belize is a good way, a stepping stone to be able to get into the Caribbean markets. I was at a heads of government meeting in Costa Rica about two or three weeks ago and there when we were talking about how SICA or the Central American countries can take advantage of Belize being a member of SICA and being a member of CARICOM countries that Belize can be what we’ve been talking about for generations about being the bridge. Sometimes being the bridge is not necessarily the good thing because you walk on a bridge but we want to be the facilitators, that Belize can be that country where Central America can take advantage to come through Belize and to access the CARICOM countries and that CARICOM countries can come through Belize to access Central America. As I think it was you who told me that it’s a win win for both sides. That noone loses and Belize is rightly positioned to be able to achieve that and for me that’s very exciting.”
The company’s CEO Jose Raul Gonzales spoke at yesterday’s event, explaining that this new investment is also putting Belizeans to work.
Jose Raul Gonzalez, CEO, Progresso: “For us, it was very important to consolidate the persons of Progresso in Guatemala and for Belize to have strategic source of a product that mean development, that mean progress, and that is very important for the infrastructure of this country . It’s been a little bit more than 8 million dollars in investment, European technology that you will see, which meets all the environmental and quality standards that this country deserves. It was a few years ago when Mario and Fernando and I visited and the ministers at that time and we were very pleased by the welcoming of the authorities and the support that we received from them even during the pandemic. So the show must go on, life must go on, and the development of Belize shouldn’t be stopped neither by the virus nor by the lack of proper building materials which we can proudly say that were made by around 28 local citizens in the initial phase of the investment here in Belize.”